Why 'feminism' not 'equalism'?

(27 Posts)
TomMartow Fri 13-Jun-14 08:01:45

Is essentially the question dh asked just as I was trying to leave for work &already 10mins late.
I did try to answer but I don't think I did a v good job & it's been annoying me since. What should I have said? He wasn't disagreeing with feminism, but making the point that all people should be equal regardless of any of the attributes that get discriminated against. But I don't agree - obviously I agree all people should be equal - but I think it's right to be a feminist anyway, because I can be one as well as standing for equality in other ways. There's something about the suggestion that bothers me & I'm not sure what it is.

CaptChaos Fri 13-Jun-14 23:21:40

Why not equalism?

Because patriarchy.

PenguinsHatchedAnEgg Fri 13-Jun-14 21:46:18

Hmmm, the 'men as feminists' thing is difficult isn't it. In political activism terms I understand the argument that men should be 'feminist allies'. But in practical dayto-day terms, I'd rather a man was a feminist than not, IYSWIM. I'd rather he said "I'm a feminist" than "I am an equalist" or "I am a humanist" (barf) or "there's no need for any of that these days.

In terms of why not equalism. Because there is structural bias again women in a way there isn't against men. Equalism implies that it is just as bad when men are expected to pay on a first date as the issues women face. And fails to recognise that many of the disadvantages to men (for example in relation to child residence) are outcomes of a patriarchal society and not a separate and equal disadvantage to men- thus treating the symptom and not the disease.

TomMartow Fri 13-Jun-14 15:27:23

weatherall I think that's what was bothering me - to not want to actually use the term feminism implies there's less of a problem than there in fact is.

TomMartow Fri 13-Jun-14 15:24:38

Hmm, yes, see what you mean. Just asked, would he describe himself as an ally of feminism - to which the answer is yes. Think we're both happy with that smile

weatherall Fri 13-Jun-14 15:07:33

It's feminism because we live in a patriarchy.

People who use the term 'equalism' are basically patriarchy deniers which I think is just as bad as being a holocaust denier.

Millions of women die because they are women.

It's global gendercide and feminism is a human rights issue.

It has to do with whether you think that someone who hasn't experienced oppression personally has any right to claim to know what should be done about it, I suppose.

Personally, I prefer the term ally (and would apply it to myself in the context of, say, gay rights) because this suggests that the person who isn't' a member of the oppressed group isn't muscling in telling everyone else how they feel and what should be done, rather they listen and support.

It is a subtle distinction though. And it doesn't mean I think men have no role in women's liberation. Just that they shouldn't appropriate the platform.

And I agree with your DH that the people who assign negative connotations to the word feminist are (consciously or not) helping to discredit the whole thing. Essentially saying "if you could somehow make it nicer, less threatening, then I'd be well up for it". Except how do you make it less threatening without removing its core idea?

TomMartow Fri 13-Jun-14 14:49:40

Thanks for all your comments, you've (as I expected) put it into words better than I could.
Buffy I tried your suggestion, it led to talking about the connotations that go along with the word 'feminism' which are negative. And dh agreed that that's no reason to change the word as its largely the people who are opposed to feminism who perpetuate those negative views.
Tbh in practice he is a feminist. Can, as keep says, a man not define themselves as a feminist? That doesn't seem right to me.

vesuvia Fri 13-Jun-14 12:22:17

Equalism usually tries to give equal amounts of additional consideration/benefit/privilege to everyone. I think one of the weaknesses of equalism is that the equality part of its philosophy is often applied in the process, rather than in the outcome. The problem with this approach is that it often ignores the fact that the starting point is not a level playing field. Improving everyone's lot by an equal amount fails to tackle any inequality that already exists. Equalism tends to preserve the favoured position of men-as-a-group in patriarchal society, so women-as-a-group will probably never catch up.

Feminism recognises that women-as-a-group are treated less favourably than men-as-a-group and feminism aims more for equality of outcome than equality of process. Although this leads to criticism of feminism "going to far" with positive discrimination, quotas etc, I think that feminism has the best approach to reducing the gap between men and women. This is one of the reasons why I believe that feminism will be more successful than equalism at liberating women from patriarchal oppression.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 13-Jun-14 11:58:15

Everything that's been said above.
Plus I always think 'equalism' is suggested by people for whom it opens the way to start 'equal-but-different' lines of argument, which can then lead us right back to square 1.

scallopsrgreat Fri 13-Jun-14 11:53:54

Because feminism is about the liberation of women from male oppression. Equalism isn't.

Hazchem Fri 13-Jun-14 11:01:13

Yep being a women in Australia is great. Or at least our minster for women MR Tony Abbott says so.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Fri 13-Jun-14 10:59:05

Hazchem confused jeez

ReallyFuckingFedUp Fri 13-Jun-14 10:58:26

"Feminism" on the other hand is a lot more powerful, as a word in itself it excludes the power-group and directs the focus to where it is needed. It's not as easy to misdirect Feminism, hence it is generally attacked rather than co-opted by those who oppose it.

Feminism is a powerful word and while I can understand why some men have a problem with it (it doesn't benefit them) I really get confused by women who refuse to use it or even attempt to make an argument for why they wouldn't be a feminist. It just seems disrespectful to the women who fought so hard for the things we do have..any woman who has ever voted, or worn trouser or driven a car, should be thankful for the word and not try and throw it on the scrap heap like it's outdated and silly

Hazchem Fri 13-Jun-14 10:43:56

Oh I totally forgot about the reason we have feminism.
Because of political commentary like this
Tanya Plibersek is the deputy opposition leader in Australia. The Tshirts are a response to Fuck Abbott T-shirt but note they haven't said Fuck Shorten The leader male leader of the opposition.
So when you see your husband again say it's feminism because slut shaming is still seen as political commentary.

Keepithidden Fri 13-Jun-14 10:36:00

Agreed Really - From a marketing perspective "Equalism" is a bit vague and wishy-washy. It's also easy to be taken from those who need equality by those in power.

"Feminism" on the other hand is a lot more powerful, as a word in itself it excludes the power-group and directs the focus to where it is needed. It's not as easy to misdirect Feminism, hence it is generally attacked rather than co-opted by those who oppose it.

As a man (sorry folks, I know that's precursor to mansplaining, but I reckon it's justified here), I don't class myself as a Feminist I'm not convinced any man can, which is important as it means the whole power of the movement stays where it should be.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Fri 13-Jun-14 10:25:58

Also as soon as equalism is seen as helping women or (even worse) helping women and POC or (even worse than that), Women POC and gay people!

how quick will it become a dirty word to heterosexual white men?

I think heterosexual white men are probably assuming if there is a movement that includes everybody they will be at the heart of it, privilege or no privilege (they are probably right)

ReallyFuckingFedUp Fri 13-Jun-14 10:19:59

"equalisim" is stupid and doesn't make any sense.

What would equalisim actually do.

Feminism puts forward the the concept of female rights being important because we are already at a disadvantage. It is a movement that makes campaigning for women's issues easier and put them at the heart of everything. it collates relevant information and knowledge to where people can find it and make use of it. People can become experts in how to deal within feminism to effect change.

Saying, 'it would be great if we were all equal' is not a good way to run a campaign

It would be great if children and animal and woman weren't abused..but they are all separate campaigns and using everyone's individual expertise to make those campaigns work...is how things get done.

I think people want to pretend that because someone says she is a feminist. She must not care about other things like racial prejudice or even (gasp) men's issues. It doesn't it just means that those things aren't something she is personally striving for. Those things are being intelligently worked on by other people. Who have the knowledge and the interest to work on them.

Also I think men can say "equalist" with a smug straight face because they see themselves as equality..because they think they don't have a feminist equivalent, as there is no "Menism"

but there is patriarchy and how many of these "equalist" men are fighting patriarchy? How many of these equalist are getting their boxers in a bunch about women not being paid the same, or having inferior prenatal care?

Hazchem Fri 13-Jun-14 10:13:38

For me it's because I think feminism offers more chance of social justice then equalism. I also truly believe that without radical change to our societal structures women will never be equal.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 13-Jun-14 10:10:47

because the term become come into being a long time ago

"The terms "feminism" or "feminist" first appeared in France and the Netherlands in 1872 (as les féministes),[13] Great Britain in the 1890s, and the United States in 1904"


when we clearly had nothing like equality (e.g. voting rights).

why should we change the name now? to please who?


Keepithidden Fri 13-Jun-14 10:10:31

I appreciate what you're saying Almond, I think what I was trying to get at is that peoples intepretation of "equality" can be different. Like you say, being treated equally doesn't work due to differences between individuals, but often that is what people mean by "equality" IME.

Apologies for my example, obviously a poor choice in retrospect.

On another thread in FWR I think someone mentioned if equality existed, there would be no need for feminism. I suppose that is my default assumption, happy to be corrected tho'.

sausageeggbacon11 Fri 13-Jun-14 10:07:30

Feminism is here (for me) to deal with issues that face the majority of women. Low pay and poor treatment in jobs that are necessary but not respected is one of my key concerns. At the same time it sees me disconnect from issues with the glass ceiling mainly because of the minority of women it will benefit.

Feminism will focus on those areas where we as women see the need for change. And doesn't matter if we like it or not the focus of MRA's is their perceived issues. And we find it difficult to understand what they want in the same way they have no understanding of us.

Probably the one issue feminism has is in certain areas we disagree on some subjects.

The one thing that has made me angry is that in some areas of feminism individuals have made careers out of pedaling their opinions.

almondcakes Fri 13-Jun-14 09:58:15

KIH, full equality doesn't mean treating everyone exactly the same way. My mother isn't treated in exactly the same way I am because she has different needs due to being seventy years old.

And nobody has a right to an unborn baby. People have rights to their own bodily integrity. I don't have rights to start grabbing anything at all from the insides of other people's bodies just become I'm a woman.

IME when people ask why isn't it equalism, what they really mean is that they don't really truly believe that there is a problem now and therefore feminism is actually seeking additional power and privilege for women that they don't deserve.

Not suggesting your DH is a deliberate sexist, these attitudes are often unconscious. You could try asking him whether he thinks that the civil rights or gay rights movements should redefine themselves as equalist also. If he hadn't considered that, then perhaps that's a way to explore why it's just feminists who should have their political focus taken away from them.

Keepithidden Fri 13-Jun-14 09:41:58

Can full equality even exist?

I mean biologically we are different, women and men have differing needs, particularly when it comes to reproduction so I'm not sure as a concept it is applicable so simply.

For example, full equality between expecting parents could mean that men would have equal rights over an unborn baby, this could lead to men having a say over what happens to a womens body. Not acceptable IMO.

I suppose it's the old semantics argument again, but I think I'd need some kind of clarification over what is meant by "equality".

almondcakes Fri 13-Jun-14 09:33:05

Because equalism already has a specific meaning, and it doesn't specifically mean equality between men and women. It would be confusing to start using a word that already has a definition to mean feminism, which already has an adequate definition of its own.

It would be like asking people to refer to 'fiction' as 'books.' Not all fiction is in books and not all books are fiction. It would just create confusion.

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